Weaving our knowledge together: Uncovering Pasifika learners' mathematical funds of knowledge

Funding year: 
3 years
Massey University
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2020
Project end date: 
March 2023
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Jodie Hunter
Research team members: 
Roberta Hunter, John Tupouniua, Louise Fitzgerald
Research partners: 
Mangere Bridge School and May Road School

Intro / Project description

Working within an equity agenda, this project draws on a ‘funds of knowledge’ approach to recognise and record the mathematical learning experiences of Pāsifika learners outside of school in home and community settings. We aim to highlight the ways in which teachers can work with their students and parents/whānau to learn from and value their everyday experiences, cultural practices, and mathematical funds of knowledge. The project will explore how educators can develop and enact mathematically challenging group-worthy tasks which draw on Pāsifika mathematical funds of knowledge and the impact of these tasks on Pāsifika learners’ mathematical learning, engagement, and disposition


The principal aims of this project are to:  

1. document the multiple mathematical funds of knowledge of young Pāsifika people and their families; 

2. develop practical strategies to empower the participants (young Pāsifika people and their families) to recognise their mathematical funds of knowledge 

3. share the examples of mathematical funds of knowledge with educators; 

4. support the equity agenda in schooling by; 

a. examining how group-worthy mathematical tasks that draw on funds of knowledge can be developed by teachers; and 

b. investigating the influence of culturally located tasks on students’ mathematical achievement, engagement, and disposition. 

Why is this research important? 

This study offers an insider view of the mathematical funds of knowledge of young Pāsifika people and their families in New Zealand. Secondly, it makes a distinctive methodological contribution through the innovative use of photovoice to emphasise the agency of the participants. Thirdly, this project shows how we can support teachers to learn to design and enact culturally located, group-worthy mathematical tasks. Finally, the project provides opportunities to examine whether culturally located, group-worthy mathematical tasks can raise student achievement across mathematics while also helping students to see and build connections with content and their lives outside of school. 

What we plan to do 

Three forms of data will be collected during the study. The first will relate to Pāsifika learners’ funds of knowledge. The second will relate to educators’ learning about funds of knowledge and how they use this in mathematics lessons (planning and enactment of mathematical tasks. The third form of data will document student responses to tasks including conceptual development. Data collection will include interviews, photo-elicitation interviews, and classroom observations. A multi-layered approach to data analysis will be undertaken during the study and retrospectively. This will include both collective analysis by the participants and research team and retrospective analysis by the research team across different phases. We will draw on an analytic approach related to the Tivaevae framework to analyse the relationships constructed between teachers and students and application of cultural values. We will also use the centers of focus framework (Lobato, Hohensee, & Rhodehamel, 2013) to highlight both individual and collective mathematical learning during lessons involving culturally located group-worthy tasks.

Contact details

Name: Jodie Hunter

Institute of Education, Atrium Building, Albany Campus, Massey University, j.hunter1@massey.ac.nz, Ph – 09 414 0800 ext 43518